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Jennifer Flay and a Public-Facing FIAC

Katy Donoghue

14 October 2019

The 46th edition of FIAC takes place at the Grand Palais October 17–20. Not only will the fair showcase presentations from nearly 200 international galleries, it offers a robust schedule of site-specific projects, talks, exhibition partnerships, and programming.

Whitewaller spoke with the director of FIAC, Jennifer Flay, to learn more about the fair’s commitment to engaging with the public.

Jennifer Flay, director of FIAC
© Max Tetard.

WHITEWALLER: You’ve said the responsibility of FIAC is to engage not only with collectors, or even the art-going public, but the general public. Why is that so important for you, for FIAC, and for Paris?

JENNIFER FLAY: Of course, the primary purpose of any art fair is to create the best possible conditions for galleries to make transactions at every level of the market. FIAC prides itself on providing this function successfully, but we also take the social function of an art fair seriously. Through FIAC Hors les Murs and FIAC Projects, we aim to bring artworks out of galleries and into the city’s public spaces, where everybody can enjoy them. There can be a perception that art is elitist, particularly contemporary art, but we want to provide the conditions for everyone to encounter artworks.

Barbara T. Smith
The Space That Contains a Flag
pastel and pencil on paper
31.8 x 25.4 cm
Courtesy of the artist and The Box LA.

During the week of FIAC, people across the city, whether tourists, city workers, families, or even the city’s homeless, can have
unexpected encounters with contemporary art. FIAC’s programs of outdoor art provide a series of meeting points, where people
who may not have had a strong education in art can still have potentially life-changing conversations when they come face-to-face with an artwork. In a city where culture is as deeply rooted as it is in Paris—and perhaps even more importantly, in those where it is not—it is important to involve everyone. Certainly, during the week of FIAC you feel that the whole city is on board.

WW: What are some highlights of the fair’s public engagement this year?

Courtesy of FIAC.

JF: We are very excited to present a new large-scale artwork by Yayoi Kusama on the Place Vendôme during FIAC, the largest that Kusama has ever shown in the public space.

Working with her gallery, Victoria Miro, we proposed a carte blanche invitation to Kusama to create a new work for this iconic square steeped in history. We are thrilled she accepted with such grace and spontaneity. Her generosity and message of peace makes this project particularly moving.

Courtesy of FIAC.

A few other highlights for me will be Glenn Brown’s dialogue with Eugène Delacroix at the Musée Eugène Delacroix, Sylvie Fleury’s neon works on the facade of the Petit Palais, Vivien Roubaud’s candy floss projections on the avenue Winston Churchill and Noël Dolla’s installation in the Jardin des Tuileries. Dolla’s work will be made up of hundreds of brightly colored umbrellas partially submerged in the large octagonal basin on the Concorde side of the Tuileries, recalling Monet’s iconic Water Lilies, which hangs in the nearby Musée de l’Orangerie. The artist has confided that it has been a lifelong dream to install this work in such a perfect location, and for us it is a dream come true to make it happen.

WW: Last year, the Place de la Concorde program was inaugurated. What can we expect from this year’s edition?

Glenn Brown
Noachis Terra
Photo © StudioPoe
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Max Hetzler Berlin | Paris | London.

JF: Following the success of its inaugural year, FIAC Hors les Murs is returning to Place de la Concorde again with a selection of nomadic structures by artists and architects. Amongst the structures we’ll be seeing on this, the most famous of all Parisian squares, there will be a work by Carlos Cruz-Diez, who is renowned for his experimental use of color and who sadly passed away this July, and by the award-winning French architect Odile Decq. We are also looking forward to presenting a historic house by the influential French architect and designer Jean Prouvé.



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Whitewall's Winter 2024 cover story spotlights the artist just as his time with the L’Académie des Beaux-Arts Residency was wrapping up.


Go inside the worlds
of Art, Fashion, Design,
and Lifestyle.